We have all watched those documentaries that open our eyes to the a reality we knew little about, and by the end we are ready to tell all our friends, start a petition, and go out on the streets to protest the cruelties that we had just witnessed. From the recent “Blackfish” to Josh Fox’s “Gasland 2,” these documentaries are powerful tools to spread awareness and incite the masses to move. It seems, however, that only several weeks or a mere couple of days after watching, most of us have greatly forgotten about these documentaries and movements about which we were so passionate. The question of what happens after the documentary goes largely unanswered.


Is awareness enough? There is no doubt that spreading knowledge and making people aware of a serious issue is a good thing, but just like other trends and topics, these topics are hot one second and then something else comes along. Most people go back to their everyday lives and little has been changed as a result of this new knowledge. There are those that will take it to the next step, but for the majority of us, being aware of the issue is as far as we will go.


Do these documentaries offer any solution? Oftentimes, the issues presented in these films feel overwhelming and leave us feeling like they are too large and over our heads. We want to help, but as a single person, we can find ourselves feeling more hopeless than inspired. Not every activist documentary needs to give answers, and in the case of “Gasland 2,” having answers may not be the point, but if they offer ways in which the average person can get involved and change small parts of their lives, people may feel like they can be a small part of the solution.


Are we given the full story? People may be easily convinced when presented with a well-spoken documentarian for a few hours. When we watch these films, it is easy to accept any and all of the information presented. What we forget is that there are always more to the story than what is given to us. It is important to further research these topics and issues before claiming we know everything from merely watching a two hour film. When we do a little digging of our own, most often we find that not all the facts were presented in an unbiased manner.


Activist documentaries are often developed to educate many on issues that impact our society. What we do with that information may be even more important. Next time you watch a film that inspires you to join a movement, take a step back, do some research of your own, and start out small.


What are your thoughts on the after effects of activist documentaries? Let me know in the comments below or find me on Twitter @whatsthesich